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July 18, 2023

U.S. House Republicans strip funding for Philly LGBTQ center

GOP members of the House appropriations committee put forth an amendment to strike funds earmarked for the William Way Community Center and LGBT Center of Greater Reading

Government LGBTQ
William Way Center Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The William Way LGBTQ Community Center first opened its doors in 1975. It is planning a massive renovation, with construction scheduled to begin in September.

Republicans on the U.S. House appropriations committee passed an amendment Tuesday to strike funding earmarked for three LGBTQ centers, including one in Philadelphia.

The amendment canceled plans to fund renovations and programming at community centers in Boston, Reading and Philadelphia. U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat representing Chester and parts of Berks counties, requested $970,000 for a transitional housing program at the LGBT Center of Greater Reading, while Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Democrat representing Northeast Philadelphia and parts of Center City, asked for $1.8 million to help fund a planned expansion at the William Way LGBT Community Center at 1315 Spruce St.

The cuts are just one piece of the GOP amendment, which also bans flying Pride flags over government buildings, Roll Call reports.

The move was met with swift outcry from Democrats, including members of the Pennsylvania delegation. "A lot of what happens in committees goes unnoticed, but I want all Americans to know what Republicans in the Appropriations Committee are doing RIGHT NOW," Houlahan tweeted on Tuesday. "They are trying to strip Community Project Funding for orgs related to our LGBTQ+ communities — including one in PA-06."

"This cruel and unjust decision is not rooted in any legitimacy, but instead in bigotry and hatred," she said in a second tweet. "An overwhelming majority of Americans support LGBTQ+ rights. We are on the right side of history & we will hold those who wish to discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans accountable."

Boyle released a lengthier statement via a video posted to his Twitter account. In it, he categorized the amendment as "outrageous" and "disgusting." He continued:

"I'm here in the Capitol and just today something remarkable happened that I haven't seen in the almost decade I've been here...With no notice, the Republican majority filed an amendment that out of over 3,800 projects from members of Congress, 3,800 that have been approved, they are now voting to strip funding from the only three projects that have LGBTQ in the organization's name. This is outrageous. This is one of the most obvious and disgusting examples of bigotry that I have seen in my career and in my life."

U.S. Rep Dwight Evans, a Democrat from Philadelphia, also condemned the amendment as "completely unacceptable." Rue Landau, the Democratic candidate for Philadelphia City Council, quipped, "Messing with Philadelphia? Yeah, that famously ends well."

Republicans on the committee did not address the amendment in the Tuesday morning session, which went into recess around 12:30 p.m. after some heated exchanges. The amendment was later adopted in a 32-36 vote along party lines. In the afternoon proceedings, Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois, introduced an amendment to restore funding to the three LGBTQ centers, but it was also rejected.

This piece has been updated with additional information on Rep. Quigley's amendment.

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